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Nineteenth Century Evidence, Survey, and Science Photography

Photography provided an exacting picture-making tool during the Civil War. To an unprecedented degree, all types of photographs brought the war home. Hundreds of photographers working in city studios or campground set-ups produced thousands of images of individual soldiers, camp life, military and political leaders and battlefield sites, both before and after conflict. Following the war, expensive albums such as Alexander Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook and George N. Barnard’s Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign formed a visual narrative of the war and its aftermath.

William Bell oversaw the photography studio of the Army Medical Museum in Washington, D.C., beginning in early 1865. Bell’s images, which are at once intimate and formal, provide clinical documentation of the physical injuries soldiers suffered during the war. The photographs were later used to illustrate surgical textbooks.